Sunday, 29 December 2013

"Please Stay on The Line... You Are NOT IMPORTANT to us..."

Marketing ISN'T just about the written communications. It isn't just about a website. It isn't about a television advert.

Marketing is embedded into EVERYTHING a business or company is and does

I wanted to speak to phone company Talk Talk, to their customer services, though didn't have a number to hand. I went online and found a number. A pop up window gave a freephone number to call. I called it. The first automated message received was "this is a chargeable number."


Freephone? Chargeable?

And so, when speaking to the customer services operative, I posed the question to them WHY there was in-congruency in the twp pieces of information. It transpired that if using a mobile, the number does not become a freephone number.

So why not say that CLEARLY on the pop up window? BAD communications and directions.

What could the operative done in this case?

How about noting down what I said and then let me know that he'll pass it on to the team dealing with the website. 

Most customers will GIVE a business clues to the holes in their business. Now whether the business is smart and agile enough to want to choose to do something about it, is a completely different matter. 

I was then put through to another department for my particular query.

For around 15 minutes, I was listening to this message;

"...please stay on the line, your call is important to us..."

And also...

"...we are experiencing high call volumes, you may want to try later or stay on the line..."

Here's the REAL interpretation of those messages;

"You are NOT important to us because if you were, we would be attending to you much quicker than we do... we want you to hang on because we are clocking up money whilst you are on the phone, waiting... management here don't have the common sense to employ more staff or have many on stand by when we see that there is a long waiting delay...we don't really care about your time or what's going on in your life because if we did, we'd treat you and your request like it was the most important thing to us at the time, and NOT give you the stupid idiotic line saying other customers are more important to us at this time that YOU are..."

And when I eventually did get connected to speak to the right person, I was told to call again tomorrow as the systems were DOWN! To which I replied for THEM to call me back at a precise time and day as I'd now WASTED enough time getting to this point and I had no intention to repeat the same diabolical experience.

(The irony wasn't lost on me; a hi-tech telecommunications company with... LOW-tech telecommunication problems!)

So what would happen to a customer's perception of a business if they were given an option to be... CALLED BACK within x minutes, to save the long wait, what if that option was given? And what if there was a service level agreement in place where, if a customer experiences call waiting of X minutes or more, there would be a reward of some kind, rather than the boringly stupid... sorry for the inconvenience this has caused.   

MOST BUSINESSES have that deep level of mediocrity working for them. It takes extraordinary level thinking to become EXTRAORDINARY. 


The bigger the business or company, the more dumber, inflexible and mystified they become in truly SERVING the customer, even though they profess to invest substantially in customer service!

The above was Talk Talk's marketing to to me, an existing customer. Who will now be an eX customer for my mobile services. 

Frankly, most people do have infuriating experiences with the simple. Most businesses and companies do little to fix it all, little knowing that the lifetime value (and residual and referral value) of just ONE customer, adds and compounds to the profits. 

Do NOT copy, emulate or embed most big dumb company approaches to marketing and serving the customer, theirs are examples of what NOT to do if you want to truly be customer obsessed.


Talk Talk failed in their promise, their commitment to call me at 10.00am this morning to help resolve my issue. It's now 4.39pm UK time. Another COMMUNICATION & MARKETING BLUNDER by them.

(If you want sincere marketing help and advice, goto: )

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Don't Make Any of These 10 Dumb Direct Mail Blunders

Majority of businesses have NOT communicated to their prospects, customers, clients or patients, via direct mail.

Really BIG mistake.


Because, a personal direct mail letter slices through the online clutter place like a hot knife searing through a slab of rock-hard butter.

It's a time where, one on one, you can intimately 'speak' to your reader WITHOUT any of the usual online babble that accompanies you anytime you connect online.

The distractions are plenty.

Now once you know WHO your audience or the target market is and you'd like to connect with them using direct mail, it's not necessarily true that if you use direct mail, you'll be successful.

That's because...

Most direct mail is literally, junk.

Strategised and written by lazy, inept marketers and 'copywriters' who strive to pick up the gong for the best waste of effort put in.

You could have the best CRM system, the best quality data, the best direct mail fulfilment house, the best project manager, yet, if the direct mail communication doesn't hit the emotional sweet spot of your audience, you can kiss all that investment, toodle bye.

Want solid results from your direct mail communications?

Then don't make any of these 10 dumb, direct mail blunders.

1. Don't NOT know whom you're writing to. Even worse, don't put the incredibly daft and stupid; 'Dear Sir or Madam.'  Know your audience. Know everything there is to know about them.

2. Don't NOT have an irresistible offer. Make the best offer you can make, one that has your audience, drooling.

3. Don't NOT speak in a conversational tone. People respond to people who write like they talk. If you insist on being lofty, pompous and superior in your communications, you may as well tell your audience to use your mailings as toilet paper.

4. Don't NOT engage and connect. Most direct mail is flat, deadly dull and devastatingly boring. There's no life, no connection and no need to respond to the communication.

5. Don't NOT focus on the money. If you want your direct mail piece to be the talk of the town, to be recognised amongst your peers as being a wonderful communication piece, to receive awards, prestige and acclaim... but... it fails to sell anything where money is exchanged, start all over by doing the 100% opposite to what got you into the mess in the first place.

6. Don't NOT have a deadline for responding. If you insist on leaving your offer open forever, guess what; hardly anyone will respond because -- there's NO reason given as to why one should respond by such and such date.

7. Don't NOT give REASONS why. Tell why you're offering what you're offering. Tell why it's a great deal. Tell why it's so valuable. Tell why they should buy. Tell why they'll end up losing if they don't make a purchase. Tell 'em... why...

8. Don't NOT tell your full story. The more you tell, the more you sell. Don't believe the stupid and insane who say people haven't got time to read. (It's generally the lazy and incompetent marketing 'pro' who sells you on that bunch of folly and foolishness) If you've got something that's of tremendous value and will bring relief, savings, joy, happiness, less stress... people will want to know all about it... especially if it fixes something they've spent an age trying to fix or get sorted... and... if you make it interesting, compelling, a breeze to read and order, they'll buy.

9. Don't NOT make it easy for people to order. If you want sales to happen, don't make things complicated. Don't make things complex. Don't have people jump through multiple hoops in order to give you money. Make the ordering process seamless and smooth. Make doing business with you a joy and a pleasure.

10. Don't NOT follow up a direct mail letter with ANOTHER letter thanking customers for the order and, if they'd like to buy something else from you... and oh, here's the letter that'll tell you all about it.    

Mastering Direct Mail communications is a skill like any other skill. It has to be learned and then, implemented. HOW you learn it, is crucial. How you then apply that knowledge, is vital.

The solution to pretty much ANY problem, is a well-written sales letter.

If you want breakthrough business and personal success, master direct mail communications.

You have read 10 dumb direct mail blunders many make (at least) with their direct mail communications.  Pay attention to them. Get those in your marketing department to pay attention to them by... NOT doing them!

(If you're a serious business owner, entrepreneur or marketing professional and are obsessed about growth and profits, I invite you register for a copy of my Direct Response Marketing Report, which you will find at . But please don't request it if you're 100% completely happy with your sales, your profits, the way your marketing communications are working for you.)

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Stupid Expensive Ways to Use Testimonials To 'Promote' Your Products & Services.

Here's a celebrity face.

Sir Ian Botham.

Here, he's being used as a testimonial for Express Estate Agency.

Their claim to fame (according to their website) is to sell houses.

Hundreds of them a month.

Interestingly, not ONE of those hundreds of buyers is being used as a proof based testimonial for the company's services on their website. (Why not do such an obvious, credible thing?)

Instead, they decide on IB for promoting the biz.

So, let's take a look at what IB has to say.

"I believe Express Estate's Agency's marketing leading solution is the best way to sell any property in the UK"


So, how exactly has Botham formed his belief?

He's not told us.

He's made a vague, 'let's pluck out of thin air because I'm being paid' statement. 

How else can we conclude any different?

He's given no proof, no evidence, no personal testimony to using the services.

The statement (and hiring Botham in this context) is a TOTAL waste of money. A silly, pompous, substance-less statement does nothing but raise eyebrows from the prospective prospect.

And of course, including Botham in the promotions presupposes that all know who Botham, is.

All, won't.

So for those who don't know who he is, it'll be even more of a non event.

Again, how did the company decide upon Botham for their promotion? What was their criterion?

Frankly, they'd have been better off getting a celebrity working in the housing, decorating or building game.


They'd be way smarter than most by getting the celeb to (GASP!) test out their services, to then speak of their results, to talk of what the company actually did for the celeb.  

Nothing speaks like proof. Verifiable, demonstrable, justifiable, proof.

It seems a kind of obvious and evident thing to do, doesn't it?

Well, because it's so obvious and so full of common sense, most in the advertising, marketing and promotion side of life are really quite clueless, so of course, they won't DO the proven and obvious.

They'd rather look for creative, award winning strategies, something that justifies their existence to the company or ad agency.

Even if you have bags of money to hire a celeb, at least don't do what these nitwits at Express Estate Agency have done with their celebrity.


Monday, 25 November 2013

Honda's Marketing Will Have Founder Soichiro Honda Rolling in His Grave

Honda's marketing communciations, gets worse.

Imagine how they'd be doing if they got their marketing act, together

Successful they may currently be in terms of products sold. Though, those running the company, have never really demanded excellence in their marketing as they do with their engineering and design innovations.

Or, it could be that they DO demand high quality marketing, though have been fobbed off by ad agencies bods who cannot match their marketing and communication efforts with the Honda innovations mentioned above.

A couple of recent examples of poor Honda communications;

I received an email promotion piece with the following subject line;

Wimbledon Park Honda, want your car

So, I decide to open the email.

And when I do, I'm presented with this offer:

Make your way to Wimbledon Park Honda this weekend to receive a free valuation of your vehicle and receive a Complimentary Winter Check worth £24.99 

Okay, not a bad offer.

Not enticingly written. Not irresitible. No specific call to action to respond that makes me feel I'll really be missing out or, that I've lots to gain by acting fast. (Maybe a mention of a surprise gift would've had me thinking about taking up the offer).

But guess what, in the SAME email, they're blatantly telling me about NEW CARS and special deals on it, etc.

Now why is this a bad thing to do?

Because, you don't want to be giving readers, prospects, customers, too many things to think about at any one time. In case you haven't noticed, attention spans are getting shorter and shorter.

Oh, but you might say that doing it in that way, having an offer for both, a free valuation and winter check, as well as discounts for new vehicles, doing it that way will enable a reader to put themselves in one category or another, so giving us a shot at those who may be interested in one or another!

That's true, it might work that way.

There's a BETTER way to do it.

By segmenting the database so you have a valuation and winter check email, go only those who have a pre-existing Honda. Segmentation could be broken down even further into various car models. Further segmentation could be made into the year of manufacture of the car, as well as the colour.

So, would it be more appealing and more responsive, if I received a mail that said;

Dear Mr Hireker (the Honda e-shot was NOT personalised),

We've arranged a special Winter Check service for you for where you'd usually pay £24.95 but instead, you won't have to pay a single penny! The reason we're doing that is because our records show that you have a Red Honda CRV and you've been a Honda client for over 10 years.

Not only that, when you come in on the 23rd or 24th of November, we'll give you a totally free, though extremely thorough valuation of your car. In doing that for you you'll be able to see exactly how much your car is currently worth, and, if you choose to do so, whether now or some time in the future, we'd be thrilled to show you various alternatives on our new and used models. 

Though, like I say, the most important thing is for you to take advantage of our winter service check. 

Oh, before I forget, there's a special gift that's been kept aside for you when you come in. Please be sure to mention this to Jenny or Frank who will be at the recepetion desk during the weekend and please bring a copy of this email with you."

Joe Jenson
Honda Customer Services Manager

Honda's recent marketing communications smell of desperation, as well as being muddled and impersonal.

Here's an actual mobile text message I received From Honda, on 1st November 2013.   

Tea, Coffee, Biscuits, and a Honda CRV FOR £249 a Month. Call Wimbledon Park Honda on XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

No context. No strategy. No campaign. It's like the marketing brains at Honda said... let's create this mobile message and send it.

Sadly, that IS how most big (small and medium also) company marketing happens,  without thought, planning or strategy.

Do yourself and your business a favour, steer well clear of emulating Honda's marketing and communication creativity and implementation.

Because, it's dull, unexciting and hopelessly put together.

Yes, dear Soichiro Honda will be rolling about in his grave at it all.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

If you copy BARRATTS Shoes you'll kill your business DEAD‏

If you copy the BARRATTS philosophy, marketing
and they way they think about business, guess what;
you'll kill your business!
Good marketing cannot fix BAD, inaccurate thinking.

If you have friends or family connected to the shoe firm
Barratts, they're suffering through no fault of their own.

If not friends or family, spare a thought for those poor Barratt
souls who are at the mercy of those who have been paid to
run the company.

Barratts Shoes is in administration for the third time in
four years, with more than 1,000 jobs now at risk.

It's not the 'worker's' fault.

Those at the top of the company?

Their poor decisions, their poor marketing know how,
their lack of finding solutions; THAT'S where the EXACT
problem lies.

And look, it's easy to dish out the following line;

"Difficult trading conditions in the sector led the directors
to explore potential refinancing options and additional
equity for the business."
Now here's a BIG question:

What would those nitwits at Barratts do with MORE money?

It seems as they've no real strategy to make the
business profitable, they'd be using that money to pay people
who aren't savvy or swift enough to find accurate, implementable

It'd be a complete and utter waste; pumping more money into a
business where there's no CLUE going on about how to serve
the most important people who could bail them out of the mess;


Here's the problem; customers aren't buying.

Reason why? There's no brand affinity, no spectacular buying experience
for the customer, no incredible offers made on a consistent basis,
no astonishing service, no difference or distinction made as to WHY
Barratts as compared to other shoe retailers.

Solution: -->Start breaking up their customer lists into various segments
and then, start creating specific versioned communications that
are just for them. (Men, women, children, seniors, specific type of
shoe purchased, amount of cumulative spend, etc)
--> Create sensational packaged bundles of products with higher value
price tags, and sending elaborate thank you messages via personal
--> Re-iterate to the past and present customers WHAT Barratts stand for,
why we're different, why it's of great importance to continue to shop
with Barratts because of our astonishing levels of personalised
customer service.
--> Train, coach and motivate ALL staff to ensure customers
are treated like VIPs. Get get rid of staff who are incompetent,
inefficient and who couldn't give a damn about what Barratts
stand for.
--> Create joint ventures with complimentary service and product
firms where further streams of income could be created.
--> Create a membership or continuity type programme where
subscribers will be eligible for a SHOE OF THE MONTH selection,
along with a compellingly written newsletter.
--> Turn all ads and marketing messages into direct response
type communications and ruthlessly fire the current communications
or ad agency if they cannot create such marketing. Find one
who CAN.


Those running the show at Barratts took NO responsibility
to fix the problem. apart from the strategy of let's look for another
buyer or investor so we can saddle the whole sorry mess WE created,
onto THEM!

This incapacity for solution based, responsible action, this
moral stupidity, this unwillingness to find a solution UNTIL...
it's this disease that's rampant through the minds of businesses
owners, executives and marketing people... of all kinds. 

And it's not as if this scenario crept up on the Barratts
brigade one fine night whilst they were all sleeping. That didn't happen.

It was simply that THEY didn't happen.

They'd been hiding this exploding bomb for some time.

Though, chose to NOT find solutions to detonate it.

Especially the ones... that WORK.

They weren't committed to that.

And, when you take little to ZERO responsibility, you have
...little to ZERO control.

And so when that happens, there's a wonderful tendency to
point fingers to everything and everyone OUTSIDE of their
comfort area.

It's easy to blame the economy, the competition, the
red tape, the distribution, the manufacturers... that's
EASY to do.

But see, I don't think they were paid for that kind of thinking,
that kind of strategy, that kind of solution.

The ASSET is the customer, though these Barratt nitwits
didn't do a thing about treating it as the asset it is, and so...

...because of their inept decisions and their inept way of looking
at the the problem and their inept way of creating solutions...

...they've put the lives and security of many many people,
into utter desperate panic.

If you yourself own, or have an interest in a business or venture.

Do NOT copy Barratts approach, attitude & excuse making
when it comes to fixing and solving business and
marketing problems because, if you do, like them, you too will be
heading into turbulent waters with the Titanic and the
Titanic captain as your guidance and support system.


And if you're connected with anyone in the Barratts upper hierarchy
forward them this mail because I'm certain there's
a valuable lifeline in the solution section I've outlined above.